Road Trip – Alcan Highway to Fairbanks

The 1422 miles of the Alcan (now called the Alaska) Highway were built in 1942 to carry military supplies.  It took 15,000 men and 11,000 road construction machines to get the job done in only 8 months.  I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been to build this road through such very wild country, but we’re glad it exists because we certainly enjoyed all the fall color and beautiful views along the way…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA…as well as wildlife, such as these mountain goats just below the snowline…OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA…and this grizzly bear that was chasing something into the woods.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe saw a number of gray jays…OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA…but the fall color was the star of the show!20150904 0568 pretty fall color 2 rWe arrived in Fairbanks, the second largest city in Alaska, and lucked out with some gorgeous weather.  A trip up the hill to the University of Alaska Fairbanks was our first stop, to check out the Museum of the North.20150904 0542 fairbanks museum of the north r20150904 0543 fairbanks museum totem rEveryone who visits the museum is greeted by the large bear in the lobby – as close to a brown bear we ever hope to get.20150904 0544 fairbanks museum jim and big bear rIt’s a great museum with history and artifacts from all the Alaskan native tribes as well as natural history and art pieces.  As we were leaving around 5pm, we were treated to some of the last sandhill cranes migrating south for the winter.20150904 0817 fairbanks sandhill cranes 3 r20150904 0860 fairbanks sandhill cranes 6 rWith nice clear nights in the forecast, we stayed up late and headed out to see the aurora borealis – the northern lights.  Around midnight we saw some waves in the sky…20150906 0737 fairbanks aurora waves r…followed by the rising moon and some brighter activity.20150906 0762 fairbanks aurora 9 rThe later we stayed up, the better the light show got!20150906 0744 fairbanks aurora 6 rFairbanks is known to be a great place to view the aurora in the winter because there’s a high percentage of clear nights, though winter temps often get down to -20, -30, or even colder, and the thought of standing outside for hours in that kind of weather is a high price to pay.  We were lucky that the fall nights were cool, but not too cold.

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